April 16, 2006

Blue Waters

Another day aboard the Ron H. Brown is coming to an end. I am still amazed by the rich blue color of this part of the ocean. The last time I was at sea was in Tokyo Harbor with a group of older Japanese fishermen. There the water had a gray/brown milky color. The water here is magnificent. The ocean experts told me the water would get clearer and even more colorful as we enter warmer waters. It is hard to believe this to be true. As usual I processed a few samples and helped on deck prepare and launch the MOC 10 net. Yesterday we set out and hauled in the MOC 1 twice. The wind speeds have picked up and the seas are getting rough. This has put a damper on diving. We may opt to do only one MOC 10 instead of two at this station and use the period of high winds to travel to our next station. The weather is predicted to have winds up to 30 knots for the next 24 hours. The boat is rocking a little more actively but most people are well adapted to sea motion at this point.

Commander Stacy Birk, a NOAA Executive Officer and #2 in rank aboard the ship took me on a tour. This ship has diesel engines but they are not attached to a drive mechanism. Instead they power larger generators to supply electricity to motors. The ship has two aft thrusters and a bow thruster. The rear thrusters can independently swivel to hold the ship steady in high seas or maneuver the large vessel in any direction. The ship is loaded with electronics as well. There are systems that monitor depth, direction, and position. The ship has GPS systems and two radar mechanisms. It even has an autopilot system. We have satellite Internet and phone service but no satellite TV. Instead there is a movie room that features recent released films on 8mm reels. Movie schedules are posted on the door. I have not been able to bring myself to watch TV while aboard. I would not be surprised if one of the crew had a video game system for entertainment. Perhaps I will investigate. Halo anyone?

This will be the first Easter holiday I can remember not spending with my wife Tawnya and my son Wyatt. There are no eggs to be found aboard the ship, no Easter decorations and pastel colors, no bunnies (except I did see a few of the crew wearing bunny ears), and since it's Sunday and a holiday no daily question today, students. I expect to receive some answers tomorrow when you return from your 3-day break. Goodnight, Sayonara, and hasta manana, so many ways to say 'until tomorrow' to those aboard but only one language is shared by all and that language is not the language of love but the language of science!

Picture 1: MOC 10 net going in.

Picture 2: MOC 10 net before plunge.

Picture 3: Lifesaver on Ron H. Brown.

Picture 4: Larry Madin with ctenophore after night diving.

Picture 5: Launching MOC 1 net at night.

Picture 6: Fire station aboard Ron H. Brown.

Picture 7: 45 ft. up near the bridge of the Ron H. Brown.

Picture 8: Stabilizing MOC 10 on aft deck.